Another former Ballarat priest connected to St Alipius Parish has been accused of historic offences of sexually abusing a girl, a court has heard.
The Ballarat Magistrates Court heard on Thursday Leslie Sheahan allegedly crept into the then young girl’s bedroom during a visit to her family’s home and sexually assaulted her while she lay in bed.
Sheahan, 85, was accused of indecently assaulting the girl between January 1966 and 1967.
The offence is alleged to have occurred while Sheahan was a priest at St Alipius in Ballarat East and former Bishop James O'Collins presided over the diocese.
The accusations are the latest shadow to fall on the Ballarat East parish where a number of convicted clergy child sex abusers worked in the following decades.
The court heard the abuse had shattered the victim’s self-esteem and left her feeling ashamed and “betrayed” by the Catholic Church.
The victim who is now 58, was eight or nine years-old at the time of the alleged offence and she believed Sheahan was a priest at St Alipius at the time, the court was told.
Police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Lisa Schoemaker said Sheahan went into the girl’s room after she had gone to bed, put his hands down her pyjama pants and fondled her before making her masturbate him.
The court was told while he allegedly abused the girl he said to her: “This feels nice doesn’t it?”
After he abused her, Sheahan allegedly whispered to the girl it was their “little secret”.
Defence lawyer Jeremy Harper said Sheahan “absolutely” denied the charges.
However, Mr Harper said Sheahan recalled the family from his time working in parishes in Ballarat.
The court heard Sheahan was a priest at St Alipius Parish from 1965 to 1966 and then at a north Ballarat parish from 1967 to 1968.
The court was told the victim did not disclose her abuse to anyone until 1990.
Leading Senior Constable Schoemaker said the victim alleged she wrote a letter to former Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns detailing her abuse when she learnt Sheahan was still a practising priest in 1992.
Later that year she called Sheahan and confronted him about the abuse but he began to cry and denied he abused her, the court heard.
Mr Harper said Sheahan suffered from prostate cancer and he was in an “acutely confused state”.
He suggested Sheahan’s evidence was broken up over a period of a few days to allow him to rest in between proceedings.
He was ordered to reappear at the Ballarat Magistrates Court for a two day hearing beginning on August 23.
• To contact CASA, located on the corner of Vale and Edwards streets, Sebastopol, call 5320 3933 or free call 24 hours 1800 806 292. Lifeline can be accessed on 13 11 14.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
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